UK & World News
Children Of Alcoholics Face Ongoing Struggle
As Children of Alcoholics Week begins, campaigners are trying to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by youngsters who grow up in households with alcohol abuse issues.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics receives more than 4,500 calls a year - many from under 18s who are struggling to cope.
Their youngest ever caller was a five-year-old girl whose alcohol-dependent mother had committed suicide in the bathroom.
Hilary Henriques, one of the founders of the charity, warns the recession has only made the situation worse with addicts drinking to cope with financial pressure and in turn struggling to fund their alcohol problem.
She said: "Alcoholics who drink don't choose to drink. Drink is how they get through the day."
Martin Williams is one of the alcoholic parents the charity has helped.
He describes how his relationship with alcohol became more important that his relationship with his two children.
"They stopped becoming the priority. The drink became the priority. And you try and juggle the two," he said.
Now though, he has been off the drink for more than three years and says his children are getting their dad back - an improved, sober version.
The most recent figures show around one-fifth of children are living with someone drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol.
According to research, the impact of having an alcoholic parent can be lifelong, with significantly increased chances of developing mental health problems and eating disorders.
Children of alcoholics are also more likely to get into trouble with police and develop a drink problem themselves.
Rosey, 20, has now moved out of home and is studying at university.
While her flatmates enjoy a typical student lifestyle, she does not touch alcohol and says does not think she ever will.
Rosey's father has been an alcoholic as long as she can remember.
She describes how she never invited school friends back home because she did not what them to meet her "slurring and rocking" dad.
She says she has given up thinking it's her job to try to help him.
The charity Children of Addicted People and Parents said such situations are common.
Its founding director Emma Spiegler describes the situation faced by many youngsters as "a hell hole with no escape".
But she insists with help and support children can come through it.
"Together we can help to break the silence, secrecy and stigma young people keep bottled up inside," she said.